Nearly 4,000 employees of the Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Vance, Alabama, are being offered buyouts in advance of another expected round of production cuts at the facility in January. The Vance plant produces the M-Class sport utility, R-Class crossover and GL-Class full-sized sport utility for the Mercedes-Benz lineup. In July, Mercedes slowed production for the first time in more than a decade of U.S. production as rising gas prices in June drastically cut sales. Although the buyout packages are being offered to all employees, Mercedes spokespersons are quick to point out that these are not to be considered layoffs. In fact, the automaker will only hand out an undisclosed limited number of buyout packages as it makes changes to the plant to bring production back in line with demand.
Alabama has been hard hit this year by the global auto industry slump. The state's automotive industry is 134,000 workers strong, and the sobering news from Mercedes-Benz only adds to earlier production cuts from Honda and slowdowns from Hyundai, two other automakers with assembly plants in the Heart of Dixie.